Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doctor Appointment

I had yet another doctor appointment yesterday. The good news is that Abby has remained head down in the correct position. The bad news is that I am still NOT dilated. I am still 50% effaced, which means I am getting there, slowly! And I know I still have a few days until my actual due date, but trust me, I am ready! Especially now that Mom is here. She has been helping me out so much, cooking and cleaning. It is nice to be able to relax as I get larger and larger. I have also been having some lower back pain (I hope this means labor is coming), so her doing everything allows me to rest.

Other updates
The car seat has been installed in the Xterra. After us spending about 45 minutes trying to figure it out, I called the fire department and they told me to come by. So we went by and the nicest fireman installed it for us, along with giving us other tips on the safest way to have the baby in the car. For example, not putting a coat on her so the straps are tight to her body and using a blanket if it is cold.

Stuart will be moving again in the next few weeks. He will be returning to his original place before returning home, but he advised me not to send him any more mail as he might not get it. Hopefully (cross your fingers), he will be home in about 6 weeks.

My next doctor appointment is Monday January 5th, but Im hoping Abby makes her debut before then. We will just have to see!

I hope everyone has a Happy (and safe) New Years Eve!! My plans are homemade soup, hot chocolate, and movies!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ali (Santa's Little Helper)

My sweet little Ali absolutely hates putting on any type of clothing. So, of course I buy her something for every holiday and make her wear it. This is her Santa's Little Helper outfit. Last year she had a dress with a fur collar, but it was really too cruel, so I only got her a t-shirt this year.

This is her sitting on my feet (or trying to get away from the camera).
I finally got her to "pose" for a picture. She looks so thrilled, I know. She actually sat in this position for a solid hour (unheard of normally) until I took the shirt off.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maternity Photos and Doc Appt

Here is the link to the rest of the maternity photos. Some of them are "bare belly" so be prepared! I am trying to decide a few to print out and frame, so any suggestions, let me know...

I also went to the doctor this afternoon. I have not dilated yet, but am starting to thin out. So it should be soon. My last test came back negative, so everything is all set, just waiting for Abby to get here. Mom arrives Friday night and is super excited! My next appointment is December 30th.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maternity Photo Shoot

I had a blast yesterday at the beach shooting some maternity shots. The girl that did it was incredibly nice and easy to work with. It was also great that the weather was so nice (about 68 degrees). She is working on editing the pictures and I should have them in the next few days. But she posted a few on her myspace page, here are my favorites. Once I get the CD, Ill post a link to all of them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

I received a package today from a group called "Full Circle Home...12 Days of Christmas, Love from Iraq". A marine mom created the program and it sends 12 Christmas presents to families of deployed marines.
The enclosed card said, "Thank you for supporting our servicemen, who are currently serving our country overseas. We know that you are the rock upon which he relies. Thank you. You deserve so much for your bravery in meeting the daily challenges alone, for showing strength for your serviceman even when you might feel weak inside, and for serving right alongside him. Your serviceman requested that you receive this series of gifts. He cares so much about you and so dearly wanted you to have a Special Christmas, even if he can't be home with you. This program is a thank you. Your gift was sponsored by the person on the reverse side. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes" And on the other side of the card, it was signed by Renee in Rochester, NY.
There was also a card from Stuart in the package wishing a Merry Christmas and a "See you soon"!

Not sure if it is the pregnancy or not, but I literally sat at my kitchen table and cried for about 15 minutes when I got this. I hear about all of these programs that do things for military families, but this is the first time I have ever received anything like this. It means so much to me, and puts a little excitement in my Christmas! I opened the first present and it was a set of lotions from Mary Kay. It is about 8 days until Christmas, so I can open one a day until next Thursday and then the remaining on Christmas.

Here are the pictures of the box (along with my mini-Christmas tree).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

JD's graduation

My baby brother (well, he is 23) graduated from Tennessee Tech this past weekend.

JD and his girlfriend, Jessica

Dinner at Puelo's Grille
My uncle, aunt, mom, dad, Jessica, and JD

Monday, December 15, 2008

USMC Birthday Party in Iraq

Below is a link to some pictures from the 2008 USMC Birthday Party that was in November. As hard as I tried, I could not find a picture of Stuart, although I did see a few of his friends.

But it is still neat to see that no matter where the boys are...they were able to celebrate the Birthday of the Marine Corps.

Picture #8 does look like Stuart, but I assure you that is not him! That is the LtCol of his battalion.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

37 Weeks (Full Term)

I am 37 weeks along today, which is technically considered full term. This means at this point, Abby's lungs are completely developed. Generally, at this stage the baby weighs about 6 pounds and is 19 inches long. And her hair looks like what it will when she is born. In my mind, I picture her having a full head of hair if that is truly an indication of the amount of heart burn pregnant women have. I am exhausted and ready to stop working, but am going to try and at least make it until Mom gets here (next Friday).
I put the glider and mobile together today (again, I am putting off the hospital bag). Pictures are below.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank You!!

I got an email from Stuart today and below is what he said.

"how is everyone doing. i have been getting a lot of cards lately, its really nice. makes me feel good that my family and yours really cares enough to send the cards. they all put very nice messages in there too."

This year's holidays are especially hard for us, obviously being apart. If you sent him a card, I really appreciate it, as it helps lift his spirits! Feel free to send another or pass on his address. A card means alot to him when he can't be around his family.

Here is his address again if anyone needs it:

Cpl Staples, SG (C Co, 1st Plt)
1st Bn, 2d Marines
Unit 73055
FPO AE 09509-3055

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another Doctor Appointment

I went to the doctor for another check-up today. I usually go to an off-base clinic and not the base hospital for my regular appointments. Well the clinic was full, so the appointment was made for the hospital today.

Apparently the hospital was full also, so whoever booked my appointment put me in a "complicated pregnancy" slot. When I went in, I got to see the "top-dog" doctor there who asked me a million questions about my complications. Finally we figured out what happened and I got through my normal appointment. But it was pretty amusing, I was his easiest case in a long time!

Abby's heartbeat was good, she is definitely facing head down, ready to go. I had my last test done to make sure I wont have any issues during labor. I have not started dilating yet, which is awesome, since Mom has to get here first!

This was also the first appointment where I hadnt gained a ton of weight! It has only been about 10 days since my last appointment, but I was still pretty happy. My next appointment is Dec 23rd.

Friday, December 5, 2008

8 months strong!

Wow, only one month to go! I never thought I would see this day. My mom will arrive here in Jacksonville in three weeks, so every day I tell Abby that she has to stay in there until then...

I am really starting to wind down. I lost feeling in my hands about 2 weeks ago and every day it just seems to get worse. It is basically just the swelling that I have in my arms that is cutting off the nerves (it is the same symptons as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). I am very uncomfortable being this heavy too! But overall, health wise, I am in good shape. Nothing out of the ordinary and I have my last test (I think) on Monday.

As fas as everything being ready, I got the glider, mobile, and travel system this week. This weekend I am going to put my hospital bag together. Of course, I say this every weekend, and I just keep putting it off. But I think I pretty much have everything that I need. I havent hung her name yet, but I can't get behind the crib to do it, so that will just have to wait until Mom gets here.

I was supposed to do my maternity shoot this past weekend, but due to rain, it was postponed until the 20th. Lamaze class is going great, learning many techniques to remain calm and hopefully get through the pain with as little drugs as possible. I toured the hospital yesterday, where they showed us the birthing room and recovery room. The birthing room is actually a HUGE room that is super nice with a tv and dvd player to keep me entertained! I was disappointed that they dont have internet access though. They acted like I was crazy for asking, but I wanted to be able to email Stuart as soon as possible with tons of pics. I can at least send him one from my phone though.
Speaking of Stuart, he is doing great, he is "out" doing some work for the next few weeks so we dont get to talk much, but he should be back in time for the birth and at least be able to call and have consistent internet access. I have also heard this hospital has a "webcam room" where I can take Abby and we can see Stuart and he can see us. We just have to be able to coordinate it.

Here are the pictures that I took tonight. I really am this big! Abby is completely cramped in there and likes to remind me with especially sharp kicks! Ill post again after my doctor appointment on Monday.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Doctor Appointment

Today was my 34 1/2 week doctor appointment. Everything is still great, got another prescription for heartburn and more vitamins. Abby is still head down, which is good! I am def. swelling in my hands and arms quite alot, but the doctor said I just need to drink more water (which, trust me, I do!). I will now start going every two weeks, and my next appointment is December 8th. Mom will be here in 30 days, so she just needs to hang on until then!

Dad flew in for Thanksgiving, he is enjoying spending time with his grand-dog, and she is def. loving it too! He is staying until Friday and we are going out to eat tomorrow for some good home-cooked food (Cracker Barrel).

I have my maternity photo shoot on Saturday, hopefully it warms up a tad before then, since it is on the beach! I am really looking forward to getting some photos done and will post them when I can.

Other than that, I hope everyone that reads this has a "Happy Thanksgiving".

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random Pictures from Iraq

After literally months of asking, Stuart has finally sent me some pictures!! Granted, they pictures of the one and only time they were allowed to have beer, but I will take what I can get!

That is a man that is excited about his beer!

Corporals's Course Photo

Here is a picture of all the guys that completed the Corporal's Course with Stuart. He is the 6th from the left on the back row. Way to go Stuart!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday Mail for Heroes/Toys for Tots

I heard about this on the radio. Red Cross is trying to get 1 million Christmas cards sent to our soldiers and their families this holiday season. Below is the website where you can read more.

All you have to do is send a card to the address on the website, and it will be distributed out. So, when you are working on your Christmas cards, don't forget your troops!! And spread the word, especially if you are like me and probably have bought more cards than you actually will use.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

So, if you see one of these finely dressed marines at Toys R Us or Babies R Us, pick up an extra toy and donate to a needy child.

Also, I know Stuart would love to get some cards as well. Here is his address again. Make sure to send it as soon as possible, so he will get in time for Christmas!

Cpl Staples, SG (C Co, 1st Plt)
1st Bn, 2d Marines
Unit 73055
FPO AE 09509-3055

Sunday, November 16, 2008

All Because Two People Fell in Love....

After a long day of working on the nursery that included a nap, spackling, and one crooked shelf, I have finally got (almost) everything hung!! I found two great pictures at Target that say "All because two people fell in love" and "And they lived happily ever after". I think these two sayings go perfect with the theme of the fairy tale room.

The memory board over the changing table (yes, I am still working on putting things where they go!!)

Two of the shelves over the dresser, with picture frames just waiting for pictures of little Miss Abby.

I found a princess bank at Hallmark that I thought was just perfect!! I also got some white booties at a shower that look great.
I ordered pink letters that spell out Abby online today. As soon as they arrive, I will have those hung and that should be it. The room is coming together wonderfully, just needs a baby in it!!!
I start Lamaze classes tomorrow that last 5 weeks. I am very excited about this class, although we will see how helpful it actually is in the moment.
As for me, I am feeling great, but tired. Even though I try and get at least 9 hours of sleep a night during the week, sometimes I still need a nap and am getting about 12 hours a night of sleep on the weekends. But, since I know that soon I will be getting less sleep, I might as well take advantage of it now. My next doctor appointment is the day before Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 10, 2008

32 weeks/7 months

Well, here I am at 7 months along. Things are going great, other than the contractions. I am def. ready for baby Abby to be here.

I put the dresser together this weekend and now it is full of baby clothes. Stuart ordered the hamper online and had it shipped to the house, it is adorable and will have lots of room for dirty clothes!

I bought the mattress this weekend, so I was able to put all of the bedding in the crib tonight!

Corporal's Course

Stuart completed a Corporal's course this past month. I have been asking him for weeks to send me information on the class, so I can put up a post about it.....he hasnt sent me anything, but I did find this article on the website that goes over the general part of it.

I believe he really enjoyed the class and learned alot from it! He is learning some great skills on this deployment and it is hopefully moving it right along.....

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I have been having some pains all week, but since I was in Virginia for work, figured I would wait it out until I got home. I called the doctor on Thursday to try and get an appointment. They couldnt see me until the 18th, but told me I could go to the ER or Labor and Delivery Triage if I wanted to. So last night when I got off work, I stopped by Labor and Delivery to get everything checked out.

Everything checked out fine (not getting too into detail of what was going on). But while I was there, the doctor came in and asked if I was feeling the contractions. Apparently I was having contractions every few minutes and they were afraid I was in labor. I never even felt a thing!! Luckily, it was not labor, and after a few hours of monitoring they let me leave.

I just can't believe I am already having contractions, yet not feeling them! Hopefully, we can stay this way throughout labor! But it was intense being in Labor and Delivery with all of the other women having babies....I have my tour of the hospital Dec. 4th, so Ill know more about what to do when the labor is real.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Work Baby Shower

The girls at work threw me a shower yesterday at work. I got alot of great things, including lots of clothes! Abby is going to be one stylin' young lady! Also tons more blankets and some picture frames and my first photo album! Below are some of the pictures.

I am going to pick up the dresser this afternoon, so it is time to start decorating! Ill post pictures of the nursery after I get the dresser situated.

This cake was not only beautiful, but quite yummy!

Natalia and Kristin

Me opening presents!

Michelle and Charleen

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doctor Appt

Just got back from the doctor, everything is great!! Weight gain normal - a little high, but nothing to be concerned about - I just need to keep drinking lots of water and walking. And slow down on the sweets (my weakness). The heartbeat was good and my belly size was normal also. I did have a horrible cramp in my side a few days ago that I asked the doctor about and she said it was just the stretching of my ligaments as my belly grows.

Then the doctor felt around to get her position and said her head is facing down where it should be. They could feel her back too, which was on the right side of my belly. That is probably why I am more comfortable sleeping on my right side as she is more comfortable too!

Right before I left the office, they gave me my pre-admission paperwork to take by the hospital. That way, it will be there and ready when it is time for me to be admitted. I also have to fill out paperwork concerning my birth plan. That paperwork goes in my hospital bag to take with me, so I still have time to think about those questions. The countdown has definitely started!!!

My next doctor appointment is November 26th.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Party

The Key Volunteer Network that I am a part of hosted a Halloween party for all the wives of the battalion. We had a great turn out (lots and lots of kids). I believe over a hundred people came and we had tons of sweets (that Abby quite enjoyed). The wife of the LtCol also had a small speech for us. She mainly talked about the rumors floating around that the guys would be home before Christmas or in January. None of them are true :( and they are still slated to come home in February. But it could always be worse, could be longer.

Below is a picture of me, Ashley Hittenger (who is 5 months pregnant with a little boy), and her friend Carolyn. As you can tell my face is starting to round out! My next doctor appointment is Tuesday, so I can get the "official" weight gain then. Still walking every day though!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Ali and I went to Petsmart's Howl-O-Ween event and got our picture taken. This is seriously one dog that does not like to dress up. I only do it for special occasions and because it makes me laugh extremely hard .

She is supposed to be a bat, but it ended up looking more like a court jester!

I had to hold her down for this one!

This was the dance to try and get it off her head (but you can see the bat wings)!

And this is her friend Cash the Pimp Juice Dog!

Friday, October 17, 2008


The crib is ready!! The painter's came and painted the nursery a creamy-light yellow. It is hard to see in the picture, but it is very pretty!!

Mike putting the crib together - good thing he did it, I dont have the patience!

With the princess bedding...still waiting on the mattress, but at least I am getting started!

Another shot of the bedding!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October Message

Greetings, again, from the Al Anbar province, Iraq! I am hopeful that by now everyone has settled into a comfortable routine – we certainly have out here in all locations where 1/2 Marines and sailors live and work. With the mission in full swing now across our area of operations, we are doing significant and active work across a wide array of focus areas – rule of law, essential services, governance, and economic development, all the while trying our level best to transition as much of the overall effort to the Iraqi people as we possibly can. For several reasons, many of which you can imagine, this is tough and trying work that requires much patience – but it is indeed very satisfying. You should see the things that are happening in our area of operations right now – the work our Marines and sailors are doing would bring a tear to your eye! As I asked everyone in the battalion to do before we even left the United States, our Marines and sailors are “working for the Iraqis” each and every day – their efforts are genuine and from the heart and their conviction is clearly evident. Over time, these efforts will forge noticeable success in the areas that I mentioned above – and Iraqis across our area will benefit immensely. I know it – we all know it – and we are dedicated to seeing it happen.

By the time you all read this message, October will be upon us. As temperatures in North Carolina cool off and fall is ushered in, know that similar changes are happening here as well. Temperatures here in Iraq have already started to cool a bit, with the exceptionally hot days I talked about in my September message appearing less and less. Cool mornings and pleasant evenings are now the norm. This is welcomed with open arms out here, as you can imagine, just as I know it is where you are. With the uncomfortable summer weather behind us, the flurry of successive holidays that leads to the New Year – and 2009 – is fast approaching. While none of us look forward to being separated during this time, we can only hope that the pace of the season makes the remainder of the deployment pass quickly for all. I can’t guarantee that your favorite Timberwolf will dress up for Halloween as anything other than a Marine or sailor, but please know that we will do everything we can out here to make all of the upcoming holidays pleasant and memorable for our Marines and sailors.

I have been very pleased to hear of the great attendance at the family functions that have taken place since we have been gone. Between the August pool party and the September movie in the park, it certainly appears that the “team” has jelled at home exactly as it has done out here. I hope that continues. It is indeed a great thing and something that should bring all of us immense pride and satisfaction. It shows that, within 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Marines’ wives and families take care of their own, just as your Marines and sailors are doing every day out here. On either end, we would not want it any other way.

And finally, Lisa and I want to send our personal congratulations and best wishes to all of the 1/2 gals, and their husbands, who have welcomed new babies into the world since our departure – and there are several. As the proud father of a newborn son while deployed, I know that it is especially difficult for the Marine or sailor and his spouse to be separated during such a joyous occasion. I wish you all the best, especially our ladies, and I take pleasure in knowing that the homecoming in early 2009 will be extra special for so many, including myself.

Thank you all for your continued support of our Marines and sailors. Keep the packages and the mail coming!

Long live 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, and success to our Corps!

God Bless and Semper Fidelis,
LtCol Winand
Commanding Officer,
1st Battalion, 2d Marines

Sunday, October 12, 2008

6 months and updates

Today marks the official beginning of the third trimester! Although I feel like I have been pregnant forever, it is only three short months until Abby arrives!

I am still waiting to hear back from the painter on when they can come - but I have at least picked out the paint color. It is a cream color with yellow undertones. Very neutral, but I think it will look great once everything is put together. Once I can get the room painted, I am ordering the crib and dresser.

I also signed up for a "Mom's Basic Training" class next week. It is a two day class and will (hopefully) teach me all of the basics of having a newborn. There is also a class for Daddy's called "Daddy's Boot Camp", Stuart is signed up to take this class in March.

I am still walking about a mile a day and I think this has curbed some of the weight gain since I know my calorie intake has not slowed down!! Ali and I are headed to the beach this afternoon since it has been raining all weekend and she needs to get out and burn some of her energy!

Abby still kicks pretty frequently, but it is reassuring to feel her moving and growing inside my belly. According to my baby book, she is about 2 1/2 pounds and about 16 inches long. Crazy to imagine something that big and she is not even halfway there!

Stuart is doing great, he is back at Camp with all of his buddies. He now has access to email, so I have been able to talk to him more. Only about 4 1/2 months until he gets back!

Here are some pictures I just took, not that great since I had to set the timer! Next month, I will be meeting with a photographer to get some "official" pictures done.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flowers and Flowers

Stuart sent me two bouquets of flowers for my birthday! Technically, one was for Abby, but I am enjoying them both the same! I def. think there is a pink theme starting....